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The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Croatia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Croatian Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,059 Athletes, 32 of which were born in Croatia. This makes Croatia the birth place of the 32nd most number of Athletes behind Switzerland and Bulgaria.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Croatian Athletes of all time. This list of famous Croatian Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Croatian Athletes.

Photo of Franjo Mihalić

1. Franjo Mihalić (1920 - 2015)

With an HPI of 48.17, Franjo Mihalić is the most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages on wikipedia.

Franjo Mihalić (Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [frǎːɲo mǐxalitɕ]; 9 March 1920 – 14 February 2015) was a Yugoslav and Croatian long-distance runner best known for his 1958 win at the Boston Marathon and his marathon silver medal in the 1956 Summer Olympics. Mihalić competed mostly in marathons, road races and cross country races, distinguishing himself by winning many top-level international competitions in the 1950s and setting a combined 25 Croatian and later Yugoslavian national records in long-distance track events between 5000 m and 25 km. In 1957, he became the inaugural winner of the Golden Badge, the award for the best sportsperson of Yugoslavia awarded by the daily Sport. He is regarded as the most accomplished male athlete in the history of Croatian, Serbian and Yugoslav track and field.

Photo of Blanka Vlašić

2. Blanka Vlašić (1983 - )

With an HPI of 48.00, Blanka Vlašić is the 2nd most famous Croatian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Blanka Vlašić (Croatian pronunciation: [ˈblaːŋka ˈʋlaʃitɕ]; born 8 November 1983) is a Croatian former track and field athlete who specialized in the high jump. She is a two-time world champion and double Olympic medallist who ranks as the joint second highest female jumper of all time with her personal best of 2.08 m (6 ft 9+3⁄4 in). She is the Croatian record holder in the event, and the former indoor world champion. The daughter of Croatian decathlon record holder Joško Vlašić, she was a talented junior athlete and attended her first Olympic Games in 2000 Sydney at the age of sixteen. She won the World Junior Championships in Athletics in both 2000 and 2002. Vlašić broke the Croatia national record in 2004 and also won her first world senior medal at the World Indoor Championships that year. A hyperthyroid condition hindered her second Olympic appearance in Athens and she spent the 2005 season recuperating from surgery. She returned in 2006, taking the silver at the World Indoor Championships. The 2007 season signalled a strong run of form: she won at the 2007 World Championships, became the indoor world champion in 2008 and her winning streak came to an end with a narrow loss at the Beijing Olympics, where she took silver. She became World Champion for a second time in 2009. Her awards also including the IAAF World Athlete of the Year 2010 and the European Athlete of the Year Trophy (2007, 2010).

Photo of Ottavio Missoni

3. Ottavio Missoni (1921 - 2013)

With an HPI of 47.67, Ottavio Missoni is the 3rd most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Ottavio "Tai" Missoni (11 February 1921 – 9 May 2013) was the founder of the Italian fashion label Missoni and an Olympic hurdler who competed in the 1948 Summer Olympics. Along with his wife Rosita, he was part of the group of designers who launched Italian ready-to-wear in the 1950s, thereby ensuring the global success of Italian fashion.

Photo of Duje Bonačić

4. Duje Bonačić (1929 - 2020)

With an HPI of 47.41, Duje Bonačić is the 4th most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Duje Bonačić (10 April 1929 – 24 January 2020) was a Croatian rower who won a gold medal representing Yugoslavia in the coxless four event at the 1952 Summer Olympics.Bonačić was born in Split to a Croatian father and Slovenian mother. He had an elder brother Vojko and a sister Nevenka. He graduated in natural sciences in Zagreb, and took up rowing to build muscles, as he weighed only 56 kg with a height of 183 cm at the time. After retiring from competitions he worked as a professor of geography, meteorology and oceanography at maritime schools and also served as a coach and referee in rowing and sailing.After the death of Željko Čajkovski on 11 November 2016, he became the oldest Croatian Olympic medal winner. Bonačić died on January 24, 2020 at the age of 90 following a short illness.

Photo of Ivan Gubijan

5. Ivan Gubijan (1923 - 2009)

With an HPI of 47.14, Ivan Gubijan is the 5th most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Ivan Gubijan (14 June 1923 – 4 January 2009) was a Yugoslav hammer thrower. He competed in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics and placed second and ninth, respectively. He is credited with introducing the four-turn throwing technique, which is widely used today.

Photo of Abdon Pamich

6. Abdon Pamich (1933 - )

With an HPI of 46.03, Abdon Pamich is the 6th most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Abdon Pamich (born 3 October 1933) is a former Italian race walker. He competed in the race walking event at the 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympics and won a bronze medal in 1960 and a gold in 1964. Pamich was the Olympics flag bearer for Italy in 1972.

Photo of Luciano Sušanj

7. Luciano Sušanj (1948 - )

With an HPI of 44.11, Luciano Sušanj is the 7th most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Luciano Sušanj (born November 10, 1948) is a Croatian politician, sports worker and former track athlete who competed for Yugoslavia. Sušanj was successful in international competition over 400 and 800 meters, but is best known for winning the 800 meters European title in 1974. In the 1990s Sušanj started a political career, winning a seat in the Croatian Parliament in 1990 and 2000. In 2000 he was elected president of the Croatian Athletics Federation, and vice-president of the Croatian Olympic Committee.

Photo of Mate Trojanović

8. Mate Trojanović (1930 - 2015)

With an HPI of 43.83, Mate Trojanović is the 8th most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Mate Trojanović (20 May 1930 – 27 March 2015) was a Yugoslavian rower of Croat ethnicity, who won a gold medal in the coxless four event at the 1952 Summer Olympics. After completing his studies in veterinary medicine in Split he moved to Maribor, where he worked as a veterinary inspector with the Yugoslav federal customs.

Photo of Petar Šegvić

9. Petar Šegvić (1930 - 1990)

With an HPI of 41.39, Petar Šegvić is the 9th most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Petar Šegvić (25 June 1930 – 7 June 1990) was a Croatian rower who won a gold medal in the coxless four event at the 1952 Summer Olympics.

Photo of Jakov Fak

10. Jakov Fak (1987 - )

With an HPI of 40.40, Jakov Fak is the 10th most famous Croatian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Jakov Fak (born 1 August 1987) is a Croatian biathlete competing for Slovenia since 2010. As a member of the Croatian biathlon team, Fak won bronze medals at the 2009 World Championships and at the 2010 Winter Olympics where he was also the Croatian flag bearer at the opening ceremony. In 2010, Fak switched his citizenship and started competing for Slovenia. With the Slovenian team, Fak won four medals at the World Championships, including two gold, and a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. In addition, Fak has eight victories in the World Cup.

Pantheon has 32 people classified as athletes born between 1920 and 1995. Of these 32, 25 (78.13%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Blanka Vlašić, Abdon Pamich, and Luciano Sušanj. The most famous deceased athletes include Franjo Mihalić, Ottavio Missoni, and Duje Bonačić. As of April 2022, 3 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Petar Šegvić, Velimir Valenta, and Andro Bušlje.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2022)

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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 7 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.